Cap Guns and News

In the midst of a strange and uneasy election result Silly Billy’s can report some new and exciting product lines, including Cap Guns

For a long long time, due to some odd legal requirements, we have not stocked Cap Gun’s here at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop. Recently we have some new additions to our Toy Lines and these include some quality Cap Guns at a great price of only £2.99 and we also sell Caps for the Guns at only £1, see images below.

Cap guns

Cap Guns – £2.99         Caps – £1.00

Fidget Spinners are still a hit and to celebrate their ongoing success we are offering a Special Deal until Sunday 11th June 2017 at 17:00 where you can come in and buy three fidget spinners for only £10 when the retail price is £4.99 each, saving you a massive £4.97. What can you do with three Fidget Spinners? Simple, just create a Fidget Spinner Three Stack like we have in the video below.

The only small caveat (that’s been a pretty well-used adjective recently) to this is that to redeem the Special Offer of Three Fidgets for a Tenner (£10), then please like the Facebook post below:

Have you seen the other unusual toys that we have in stock at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop

The election has been monopolising the News recently so as a change I would like to just give a short review of the latest Baywatch Movie which turned out to be much more amusing and entertaining than I expected.

Baywatch 2017 was a satirical take on the Baywatch series that was running from 1989 to 1999 in various guises staring the wonderful David Hasselhoff as Mitch and Pamela Stevenson as CJ. Both these actors made Guest Appearances and it should be said that Pamela has aged far better than David, or maybe she has had far more disposable income to spend on cosmetic surgery? So the new film had a semi-plausible plot line, some very funny one-liners and overall was pretty well acted overall, so when Baywatch comes to the Hebden Bridge Picture House then Robert A Williams, Author of this blog and many others, recommends that you go and see it.

Other News

The Bicycle in the image below was stolen in Hebden Bridge and belongs to a teacher (Mr Bracewell) at Calder High School, if you have any details then get in touch and we will pass them onto him
Stolen bike HX7

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Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and More

The yearly Hebden Bridge Arts Festival will soon be upon us. This year the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival is running from the 23rd June to 2nd July 2017 with the strap line of “All the Town’s a Stage”. Hebden Bridge is a haven for artists and poets and I am helping out one such poet with their website which will soon be unveiled.

More news is the disappearance of the old five pound note and today is the last day that you can use your old five pound notes in Silly Billy’s Toy shop. after today we cannot take the good old fiver and no other shops will.
Old Five Pound Note

What happens if you haven’t spent your old £5 note by Midnight Today the 5 th May 2017?

  1. You won’t be able to spend the old five pound notes in shops or restaurants.
  2. If you want to swap the old £5 bank notes over for new plastic you will have to make the trip into a bank, building society or Post Office.
  3. You will have to be a customer of the bank in question for them to exchange the old note.
  4. You can go to the local Post Office to deposit the old fivers into your bank account also, the Post Office will probably not change them for you although you could always ask the question.

Fidget Spinners, they have gone viral !

So we have sold out of Fidget Spinners at Silly Billy’s and people have literally gone nuts for them. TODAY we are getting more stock in though we are unsure when it will arrive. As soon as the new Fidget Toys arrive we will put a post on Silly Billy’s Facebook Page.
Today we are hoping to have more stock of the Whirlerz Fidget Spinners at £3.99 and also some Fidget Cubes.
Next week we will have some more varieties of Fidget Spinners assuming our supplier has stock including some metallic ones.

Things to do:

Here are some things that you can do:

  1. Like our Facebook page to make sure you are up to date with what is happening with us, Robert A Williams writes blog posts potentially once or twice a week, although the easiest way to keep up to speed is to Follow Silly Billy’s on Facebook
  2. Spend your old five pound notes TODAY at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop
  3. Make a note of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival dates in your diaries
  4. Read the recent post about Silly Billy’s reaching the grand old age of Twenty 

 

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Hebden Bridge Market has moved

Dave Young has given us some useful information about Hebden Bridge Market which we would like to share as some visitors to Hebden Bridge may not be aware of the new Hebden Bridge Market situation so here it is straight from the Horse’s Mouth, as it were:
The new Hebden Bridge Market is up and running today (thursday 13th  at Lees Yard. It will be a 4 day Hebden Bridge Market. Thursday as Usual, Friday – Bric-a-brac, Saturday Local Artisan Market – Arts & Crafts etc and Sunday Local Produce Market.

Hebden Bridge Market Transfers to Lees Yard

The new, and hopefully better, Hebden Bridge Market opens on Thursday 13 April 2017 (today) in its new area of Lees Yard on the side of St George’s Square.

Work has been happening over the last 10 weeks to prepare the site for the all new Hebden  market. Alterations have actually been made to the existing format and also include a new prep work unit for traders, storage facility for stalls and also public lavatories.

Along with the regular Thursday market, the bric-a-brac market which typically opens on a Wednesday will change to every Friday, in Lees Yard, from Friday 14 April (Good Friday).

There will also be an added, new Saturday market, selling crafts as well as craftsmen items. This will be every Saturday, from 15 April.

The Sunday local produce market will stay in Lees Yards and will now open each and every Sunday

Dave Young was at the market this morning for an interview with BBC Radio Leeds which was broadcast earlier today

For more details about Hebden Bridge Market moves and changes please visit Calderdale’s website at:
www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/markets/open-markets/hebden-bridge-open-market

hebden bridge market Hebden Bridge Market

This Weekend is Easter Weekend

Also with moves and changes we have Easter Weekend coming up which, all being well, will be busy both for us as one of Northern England’s Premier Toy shops and also for all the rest of Hebden Bridge. The exciting Hebden Bridge Duck Race is happening on Easter Monday and if you don’t have a ticket yet we strongly recommend buying one as the prizes this year are better than they have ever been, including the possibility to Win a Holiday !

Silly Billy’s have been busy getting some exciting New Products for Easter ranging from New Sylvanians to New Pocket Money Toys, we have toys and games to suit all age and budgets here in Hebden Bridge. If you haven’t been to Silly Billy’s Toy Shop we would love you to visit and if you cannot visit us in person then why not head over to Silly Billy’s Facebook page and give us a like, it really helps us out when people like our social media profiles, we are also on Twitter and Pinterest.

Have you seen our new Doll’s Range yet, a recent introduction into Silly Billy’s Toy Shop

Coming Soon Fidget Spinners

Another very good reason to keep an eye on Silly Billy’s Toy Shop Facebook Page is that often we put new product lines that we have received directly into our shop and next week we hope to be having our first delivery of the very exciting
fidget spinner

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Traditional retail markets and the battle to stay afloat – BBC News

Traditional retail markets and the battle to stay afloat – BBC News

British markets are seen as a microcosm of the city or town in which they are based, encapsulating the diversity of communities and skills a place has to offer.

But with some being sold off due to their prime locations and others fighting for their existence due to the rise of discount supermarkets and online retailers, will generations to come be able to enjoy them?

BBC News has been to Kirkgate Market in Leeds, winner of “Britain’s Favourite Market” for the second year in a row, to find out how it is adapting to changing trends.

Among the 170 stall-holders, optimism for the future is mixed with serious concern about dropping footfall and the rising costs of renting floor space.

Near an entrance to the 1904 hall, with its glass roof and cast-iron balcony, sits North African and Middle Eastern food vendor Cafe Moor.

 Owner Kada Bendaha set up his stand after a life-changing breakfast in the bustle of London’s Borough Market and its speciality food stands.

“The beauty of a market is you have that one-to-one contact, you build that relationship with your fishmonger or butcher,” he said.

“If you go to the fish section, there’s a gentleman there who has been there for 38 years, you go and ask him about a particular fish, he knows the business inside out.

“Go to a supermarket and you will have a student who is just working part time there, it’s not the same.”

Dating back to 1857, Kirkgate has become one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, selling fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, clothes, jewellery, haberdashery, flowers and hardware.

The booming voice of a butcher offering the day’s best prices still echoes down its walkways, although e-cigarette stands and racks of iPhone covers tick off some modern requirements.

It has been a turbulent time for the Leeds City Council-run market over the past couple of years, with temporary walls and scaffolding becoming a familiar sight during a 13.7m renovation.

Despite the council reducing rents during this period, stall-holders have complained of regulars becoming put off and heading elsewhere.

Yearly footfall at Kirkgate dropped significantly from 718,000 in 2014 to 628,000 in 2015, but the number rose again to 699,000 in 2016.

Leslie Burwell, of Whitaker’s Farmhouse Eggs, has worked in the market for 25 years in total.

She said: “It used to be heaving, you couldn’t move for people down the aisles, there was an atmosphere with people shouting.

“They’ve taken all of the shops out of one section and made a big wide open space – they have spent millions of pounds and have nothing to show for it.”

Kashif Ali Raja, who recently took over Spice Corner, said he was positive despite widespread change.

He said: “When you start a business, you have to work really hard. There’s early mornings, working late.

“We sell seeds, fresh vegetables, things which are very difficult to find in Leeds, this is the only place you can get it.

“I don’t think recent changes have made any difference, because the regular customers are the same, they will always come.”

The outdoor section of Kirkgate, with its fruit stalls, luggage-sellers and flea market, is where Michael Marks opened his Penny Bazaar, leading to the founding of Marks & Spencer in 1890.

The patch now sits a stone’s throw away from the newly-opened 42,000 sq m Victoria Gate complex, a 165m retail development featuring a flagship John Lewis store.

Leeds City Council wants the market to be able to take advantage of the expected increase in shoppers in the area, but not everyone feels it will make a difference.

Julie Carr has worked in the outdoor section for 35 years and now sells second-hand toys and collectables at her stall.

She said: “The new John Lewis has made no difference to us, I don’t think their customers and ours are connected at all.

“My theory is in 20 years there will be no shops, no markets, everything will be online and people will say ‘I remember when we used to go to the market’ – and they’ve gone.”

The market’s 1976 Hall has seen the most significant change, with the space transformed into a brightly-coloured communal seating area, where established “street food” traders have decided to set up permanently.

A rotating schedule of craft fairs, live music and kids’ entertainment is used to draw people in, with long tables encouraging those new to the market to get chatting to those who have been regulars for decades.

One of the new food traders is the Yorkshire Wrap Company, selling hot meals wrapped up in a Yorkshire pudding.

Michael Pratt, who runs the stall, said: “First impressions are good, word of mouth seems to be getting out about the new food hall area.

“It’s bringing a lot of different faces into the market, people who maybe wouldn’t have usually come here.”

He added: “Markets give a sense of community and the ability to get everything under one roof, great produce for great prices. I think they’re going from strength to strength.”

Down in the basement of the top end of the market, Brian Bettison has been providing haircuts since 1982. He said rents for stalls had gone “up and up and up”.

He said: “They’ve had numerous different ways of doing it through the years, it was measured on square footage, it was zoned into the most desirable areas.

“Everyone now has different agreements with the markets, nobody will let you know, they will keep it to themselves.”


What do the shoppers think?

  • Anna Woollett, 30, from Meanwood in Leeds: “I buy all of my fruit and vegetables from here, because I like to buy food fresh and it’s far better quality than in supermarkets and lower prices. It’s a really big part of my life. If I had to move to another city, one of the first things I would check out is if there’s a decent market.”
  • Maurice Collinson, 81, from Beeston, Leeds: I’d like to see more stalls come in but they can’t afford them as the prices are going up all the time. I’ve been coming here all of my life and it’s a beautiful building, the top half is really what it used to be, it’s really good.”
  • Paul Eccles, 50, from York, said: “The international food here is fantastic, stuff from north Africa, Asia, it’s great. I’m from Blackburn originally and the market has shut down and it has killed the town centre, it’s important they invest in them.”

  • Close to where the indoor market meets the outdoor section, Cheryl Murtheh has been selling cosmetics for 16 years.

    She said: “They’re giving cheaper rent to newcomers coming in, but they should lower the rents of people who have been here a long time.

    “What happens to the people who have been keeping you going for years, shouldn’t they be entitled to something as well?”

    According to the National Association of British Market Authorities, from 2009 to 2016 the number of market traders in the UK dropped from approximately 55,000 to 32,000.

    The recession has been highlighted as a key reason for this, although there is some evidence the sector as a whole has started to turn a corner.

    The National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) said traditional retail markets currently have a collective annual turnover of 2.7bn, with the figure increasing by 200m year on year since 2013.

    Like Kirkgate, several markets across the UK are adapting to modern trends to cater for younger shoppers.

    Many have introduced hot food areas, improved their branding, have extended opening hours and provided free wi-fi.

    Joe Harrison, chief executive of the MNTF, said: “It’s easy to follow trends, but five years down the line you may realise you’ve got nothing.

    “They need to make sure careful steps are taken to keep them popular with the next generation, but it needs to have that social value, dealing with every demographic rather than focusing on one specific thing as it’s currently the most economically viable.”

    Leeds City Council said visitor numbers were now “on the up” since the refurbishment, with the number of vacant units “also reduced significantly”.

    A spokeswoman said: “We recognise that there is still some way to go but we are very optimistic that more and more visitors will continue to discover the traditional charm combined with the new modern areas that Kirkgate has to offer.”

    Clearly the market has reached a key moment in its history, with bold decisions about the site’s future use being made.

    While serving up mint teas and chicken shawarmas to lunchtime customers at his food stand, Mr Bendaha said: “This is not just a full-time job, it’s a lifestyle and it’s a big part of the city.

    “Hopefully it will never die.”

    Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-38768838

Silly Billy’s Toy Shop is located in the wonderful town of Hebden Bridge in Calderdale.
There are regular outdoor markets in Hebden Bridge.
Also regular Farmer’s Markets in Hebden Bridge on 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sunday of each month.

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This Is What The Internet Looked Like In 1973

This Is What The Internet Looked Like In 1973, funny that…

The Internet is an ever-expanding sea of billions of people, connected through a web of smartphones, laptops, watches, and cars.
Forty years ago, it was a very different picture indeed.
David Newbury tweeted a map of the Internet that his father saved in 1973 when he worked as a business manager of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the early pioneers of computer technology.Back then, it was known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). This government-funded project was officially disbanded in 1990, but it effectively became the foundations of the current day Internet we all know. You can read more about the map in this a report from theNASA Ames Research Center.

Instead of the sometimes bewildering Internet of things we have today, it consisted of just 45 computers connected to 40 nodes. The squares represent the nodes, which are equivalent to a router, and the ovals represent a host, which essentially denotes a computer.

There was also some sleuthing on Redditaround the maps that managed to work out some of the university labs and military bases that the diagram was referring to, some of which are still about today.

For some perspective, heres what a map of the Internet looks like today.

This is how the network appeared when mapped out. California State University Domingues hill/Public Domain

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/this-is-what-the-internet-looked-like-in-1973/

This post is created by a Trending Traffic application which can pull trending content from other sites, in this case iflscience.com, and then publish them to your own blog which can then help with traffic generation to the blog. If you are needing such applications or any help with Search Engine Optimisation or Social Media Management then please contact Robert A Williams who works at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop in Hebden Bridge, thanks and #BE_WELL

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Pokemon Sun & Moon & More

Pokemon Sun & Moon

Lots of news here at Silly Billy’s, Pokemon Sun and Moon have just arrived in the shop and we have both the Theme Decks at £11.99 and also Pokemon Sun & Moon Additional game cards at £3.99
Door Broken

A sorrowful soul attempted to kick our door in on Tuesday night, we are waiting for the door to be repaired. Currently it is being held together with some chipboard so we would like to apologise for the un-sightlyness of the shop door. For any would-be thieves reading this, we know that the alarm is still working!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lego

Lego Batman sales are on the increase and the Lego Batman Movie is coming out soon, tomorrow, in fact:
If you would like to see how our own Minifgure Collection is going then please have a look here

 

We have also had an enquiry from Brick Clicker to ask if we can show his video on Batman Movie Minifigures and so to help his profile and also because he pulled exactly the same Minifigure of Vacation Batman as his first minifigure, the same Batman Minifigure as we did, you can view Brick Clicker’s video below:

If you want to view Brick Clicker’s full YouTube Channel it is here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA89O6CpgZYeiwIB040Cf3Q

Messy Mini Movers are having a parent and child (any Age) creative dance event on Wednesday 22nd February, more details below:

Since I am on a bit of a roll with Video’s in this post, here is another one for all the folk who may be coming into the shop and asking for me to search out particular batman collectible minifigures, now you can do it all yourself with tuition from Brick Adjuster

 

Other exciting news is that last week Bill went to the Toy Fair in London and there’s a picture of him with some Playmobil Characters having fun, we will be having new Playmobil products and a new Playmobil Window Display in Silly Billy’s Toy Shop soon.

Next week Bill be going to the Spring Fair in Birmingham on another research and buying mission for Silly Billy’s Toy Shop

We have just received some brand new TY Beanies, TY Clips and Teeny Ty’s and you can read about them on Silly Billy’s Facebook page, if you are on Facebook and haven’t liked us yet then please do, it really helps.

We have a Shop on EBay as well so if you would like to see what’s inside then please go:
shop.sillybillystoyshop.com

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NSPCC warns YouTubers over fan relationships – BBC News

Image copyright Getty Images

“Blurred boundaries” between prominent YouTube stars and their viewers can put young people at risk, a leading children’s charity has warned.

Emily Cherry, of the NSPCC, said YouTubers had a “responsibility” to make sure relationships with young fans were appropriate.

Claims of inappropriate behaviour have been made against a small number of internet personalities.

Google-owned YouTube told the BBC that educating fans and creators was key.

Ms Cherry warned that online stars have huge power and influence on young people and the way they think about the real world.

“One child told me that checking their social media accounts and what their favourite YouTube stars are up to was as important to them as eating,” she told BBC Radio 5 live.

‘Sexual activity’

In 2014, Ania Magliano-Wright published a video in which she alleged a YouTube video-maker known as VeeOneEye – real name Jason – had sex with her when she was 15.

She said she had offered Jason a place to stay after a fan and creator meet-up in London.

“He bought a big bottle of alcohol,” she said.

“I wasn’t really aware of how much alcohol it would take for me to lose control over myself.

Media caption Ania Magliano-Wright alleges a YouTube video-maker had sex with her when she was 15.

“I didn’t want to seem uncool or boring and I wanted to seem normal it didn’t ring as many alarm bells as it should have.”

Ania says she did go to the police with her allegations but decided not to press charges.

Jason declined to be interviewed by the BBC but said: “I like the topic for your piece and it is something that does need to be talked about.”

He also published an online apology to Ania blaming his strict religious upbringing for his actions.

‘Video apology’

In the video, which was uploaded in 2014, Jason says: “I thought it’d be fun to get some drinks because we didn’t have much in common and it was awkward.

“At that moment, that was the only way I knew how to socialise – by drinking.

“She never approached me as a fan. To me we were just two YouTubers who wanted to hang out.

“It seems she thought my intentions were to become friends and then have sex. It wasn’t.

“Most people make mistakes when they’re growing up with sex and alcohol.”

“This was me making mistakes and growing up, but at the wrong age.

“I want to say sorry to Ania and anyone else that I’ve hurt and anybody that’s affected by this. I’m sorry.”


NSPCC advice for staying safe on YouTube

  • Never share your personal information online
  • Do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life
  • Have conversations with your parents about where you are going and what you are doing online

‘Manipulative relationships’

Media captionAlex Day: “I never considered I had power”

In total, 14 separate allegations were made against vlogger Alex Day, but he was never charged. At the height of his fame, Alex had more than one million subscribers to his channel.

Alex told the BBC he had not realised that making videos in his bedroom could put him in a position of power.

“Something I never considered was that, in meeting someone offline, they’d got to know me a long time before I got to know them,” he said.

“It wasn’t an equal situation because they had an idea of me that I wasn’t considering – and that was totally my fault.

‘Manipulative relationships’

“These people didn’t feel like fans. I never felt like I was taking advantage of people at the time – but if people say I did then I did.”

Alex denied any sexual contact with underage girls but said he had “manipulative relationships with women”.

He also told the BBC he was surprised more allegations had not surfaced against other content creators.

“There are certain people in the YouTube community that are highly regarded and I’m like ‘how did he get away with it?’”

He went on to say those he had in mind may not have done “monstrous things”, but sometimes people would “hook up” at various conventions.

Awareness

Hannah Witton, who has made videos about sexual health and body positivity, said the YouTube community was “hyper aware” of allegations.

She admitted on some occasions people had known about allegations of inappropriate behaviour for a long time before they were made public.

“We strive to support people affected by it and educate ourselves as well,” she told the BBC.

“There has been a shift in the last few years, since these allegations started, to educate ourselves on appropriate boundaries. You have to judge where the line is between different people.”

She said YouTubers had responded to allegations by “cutting people off” from the community when they were implicated.

Education

YouTube said content creators were responsible for their own “content and conduct” on the platform.

“As a company we have very clear community guides which set out the rules of the road on YouTube,” said the website’s spokeswoman Thea O’Hear.

“It’s really important that creators are aware of the responsibilities that come with having a big audience and a global fan base.

Ms O’Hear said educating fans and creators was “best delivered” through a mixture of YouTube’s company values, support, and physical literature.

“We also try to provide practical support and guidance to creators to help them create the right kind of content and have the right kind of interaction with their fans.

“It’s also around parents being involved, and schools, and everybody having a really good understanding of what it is to be a young person in the 21st Century.

“We at YouTube are also growing with the community. Often we create tools in response to community feedback.

“YouTube would terminate the channel of someone who has broken our guidelines.”

If you have been affected by any issues in this article or need advice on staying safe online, on protecting your children, or as an Internet personality, the NSPCC has a helpline you can call on 0808 800 500 2.

Hear the full interviews featured in this report on the Stephen Nolan programme, Sunday 9 October, 22:00 BST on BBC Radio 5 live.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37590004

Have you seen Silly Billy’s Free to enter Competition, Win An Advent Calendar

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Family sues Amazon for $30m claiming hoverboard burned down their house

Family sues Amazon for $30m claiming hoverboard burned down their house

Tennessee family blames an exploding battery a common occurrence that has led to a mass recall for setting their million-dollar home on fire

It has been nearly a year since the self-balancing scooters known as hoverboards were setting sales charts on fire, but the resulting litigation (from the resulting real-world fires) is just getting started.

A family in Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a $30m lawsuit against Amazon, arguing that the online retailer should be held liable for the ill-fated Christmas present that burned their house down. This can be only compared to sueing big pharma companies, e.g. Xarelto® Class Action | Current Lawsuit Settlements.

Megan Fox purchased what she thought was a FITBURO F1 with an original Samsung advanced battery from a company called W-Deals through Amazons website on 3 November 2015, according to the complaint.

The hoverboard remained in a closet until Christmas, when it was given to her 14-year-old son.

On 9 January 2016, the toys battery apparently exploded a common occurrence that led to the recall of more than 500,000 hoverboards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in July.

Two of the familys children were at home at the time of the fire and had to escape by breaking windows and jumping from the second floor. The million-dollar house and most of the familys belongings went up in flames.

The
The offending hoverboard. Photograph: Nashville Fire Department

Amazon is not generally liable for the behavior of third-party merchants who use its platform to sell their products. But according to the lawsuit, W-Deals was a sham entity selling counterfeit products from China.

The Fox familys attorney told the Tennessean that they spent months trying to track down the actual manufacturer of the faulty hoverboard but came up empty. If no manufacturer can be found, Tennessee product liability law allows a plaintiff to go after the seller instead in this case, the $380bn online retail behemoth.

The suit also alleges that Amazon was negligent in failing to warn customers about safety problems with hoverboards, which it claims should have been known to the company prior to 9 January 2016.

Amazon began pulling some hoverboards from the site in mid-December 2015 over safety concerns.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/01/hoverboard-amazon-lawsuit-burn-down-house-tennessee

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Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

Symptoms improve after parents are trained to better understand and interact with preschool children, researchers say

A new form of therapy has for the first time been shown to improve the symptoms and behaviour of autistic children, offering a potential breakthrough in care for millions of families.

Six years after parents were trained to better understand and interact with their preschool children, researchers found that the therapy had moderated the behaviour of those who had been severely autistic, unresponsive or unable to speak.

A child who might have run around a supermarket squealing, heedless of their parent, putting objects in their mouth and pushing past shoppers to try to press the buttons at checkout, might instead wait in the queue and even help load the trolley, the research found.

The success of the preschool autism communication trial (Pact) has surprised even the researchers who designed it. There are no drugs to treat the condition, which typically sets in around the age of two, and many families have tried intensive training of their children by therapists, with mixed results. Pact instead trained the parents to help their children.

Prof Jonathan Green at the University of Manchester, who led the study published in the Lancet medical journal, said they had not found the cure for autism, but he and his team believed it had great potential and hoped it would be widely adopted.

The advantage of this approach over a direct therapist-child intervention is that it has potential to affect the everyday life of the child, he said. Our findings are encouraging, as they represent an improvement in the core symptoms of autism previously thought very resistant to change.

This is not a cure, in the sense that the children who demonstrated improvements will still show remaining symptoms to a variable extent, but it does suggest that working with parents to interact with their children in this way can lead to improvements in symptoms over the long term.

The trial involved 152 children aged two to four. The families visited a clinic twice a week for six months, where parents were videoed with their children and a box of toys. Autistic children might not interact with their parents at all, but when eventually a child did offer a toy or made a noise that could be interpreted as a request, the incident was rerun on video and the parent encouraged to respond. If the child offered a toy, the parent reciprocated. If the child said a word, the parent repeated it and added something. The practice was repeated at home every day.

The therapy continued with the parents for the next six months with less intensity. At the end of the first year, the researchers could see the children had improved, but the most dramatic development was seen at the follow-up six years later. At the start of the trial, 50% of those in the control group who did not get the therapy and 55% of those who did were assessed as severely autistic. The children in the intervention group, though, got better. The proportion assessed as severe in the control group was 63% by the end of six years, compared with 46% in the intervention group.

Uta
Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development at UCL, said called the study a remarkably positive story. Photograph: Antonio Zazueta Olmos/Antonio Olmos

Other experts applauded the work. I can see why these researchers are excited, said Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at the University of Oxford. These results at follow-up are pretty consistent in showing the benefit of this early intervention for autism across a range of measures. My impression is that this is an intervention that reduces the severity of autistic symptoms, rather than curing autism. Nevertheless, for parents of children with autism, even a modest reduction would be worthwhile.

Dr Max Davie, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said it offered a hugely cheering message for families, while Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development at University College London, called it a remarkably positive story, because the intervention itself was neither intensive nor invasive.

The absence of any hope, as well as the very sudden regression in childrens behaviour, led many parents to believe in the discredited theory of Andrew Wakefield that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine was the cause of autism.

Parents commonly tell us that they fight for a diagnosis but, when they finally get itthe cupboard is bare, with little information or tailored support available to them, said Dr James Cusack, director of science at the charity Autistica.Too often, parents fall victim to the false claims of charlatans who prey on desperate families. These results look promising for the many thousands of parents who want to find early interventions for their children based on solid science.

The researchers said childrens communication with their parents was improved at the end of the six years. The parents said there were also improvements in relations with other children, in social communication and in repetitive behaviours. But there was no change in child anxiety, challenging behaviours or depression in the autistic children and they would still need a lot of support while growing up.

About 1% of children and young people are affected by autistic spectrum disorder, which ranges from mild to severe. The lifetime costs to the UK, which include health, social care and education costs as well as productivity losses, are estimated at 1m to 1.5m per child and between $1.4m and $2.4m in the United States.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/25/autisc-children-therapy-method-potential-breakthrough-care-preschool-autism-communication-trial

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Genetic Analysis Predicts Academic Achievement

Genetic Analysis Predicts Academic Achievement !!

Teachers and parents may one day be able to use a genetic test to predict whether or not a child will excel at or struggle with academics in the future, based on new research pioneered by scientists at King’s College London.

While the prospect may present a frightening vision of a future in which ability and potential will be determined by one’s genetic makeup, and indeed is tainted by a history of eugenics and racist science, the researchers say the tests will help identify, early on, the children who are at risk academically and help educators create special interventions for them.

Saskia Selzam, lead author of the study, explains more in the video above.
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“By using these polygenic scores, it is actually possible to identify those for example who are maybe at heightened risk for a learning disability, for example,” she said. “So imagine a scenario where we could use a polygenic score very early on to give us information about whether someone might have some learning problems later on.”

But other experts who have also mined genetic testing to predict behavioral outcomes warn that we have a long way to go before genetic testing can predict individual educational achievement, and that research is the genetic tool’s primary utility.

How genetic scoring tool works

Scientists use a special kind of DNA analysis called a genome-wide polygenic score. It aggregates the tiny effects of hundreds of thousands of genetic variants to create the scale that can predict academic achievement. In this case, the researchers from King’s College London borrowed the formula for a polygenic score that others had already used to predict academic attainment (the number of years of formal education a person completes).

They then applied the polygenic score to a population of 5,825 unrelated children to see if they could predict how those kids would score on tests.

The King’s College researchers looked back at students’ academic scores at ages 7, 12 and 16 and found that genes alone accounted for a growing variance in grades that grew as the kids got older. At age 7, genes accounted for about 3 percent of grade differences. By age 12, the number was up to about 5 percent. By 16 years old, genes explained about 9 percent of the difference in grades.

While 9 percent may not seem like much, past studies have linked gender to about 1 percent of the variance between boys’ and girls’ performance in math, while high scores of “grit,” or resilience, account for about 4 percent of educational achievement.

To put it in terms of grades, by age 16, kids with high polygenic scores had grades that, on average, ranged between As and Bs. Those with low polygenic scores tended to earn Bs and Cs. Finally, those with the highest scores were more than twice as likely to go to university compared to those with the lowest scores.

How close are we to using these tests in schools?

“We are at a tipping point for predicting individuals’ educational strengths and weaknesses from their DNA,” Professor Robert Plomin, senior author of the study, said in a statement about the research.

While Plomin’s statement and the results of his study might stir fears of self-fulfilling prophecies, or could even backfire (if you tell a child he’s smart, it may make him fearful and afraid to fail), Daniel Belsky, a professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, says we’re a long way from tests that can be used in schools and doctor’s offices to predict a child’s academic abilities. However, Belsky, who was not involved in Selzam’s study but has conducted his own on genetics and educational attainment, also points out that the time to discuss these issues is now — not when the tests finally do arrive.

“Findings from this study, along with others, suggest the possibility that we might someday have genetic tools that can predict important dimensions of children’s life outcomes,” said Belsky. “We should begin the conversation about whether we want such tools now, before more accurate genetic predictions become possible.”

Selzam is of a similar mind to Belsky on this issue. In the video above, she maintains that while these genetic analyses will continue to be useful research tools, policy makers and scientists would have to discuss how and when to deploy them, if at all, should a version of the test become available to the wider public.

The real point of these tests: social science research

But other scientists who research polygenic scores aren’t convinced about their utility as a tool to predict an individual person’s educational abilities or attainment. Daniel Benjamin, an associate professor at the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California, who was part of the initial group of scientists who created the score Selzam used in her study, says their promise lies mostly in research.

“It’s definitely premature to start thinking about using it to tailor the educational experience,” said Benjamin. “But its predictive power is definitely big enough now to be useful for predicting differences in samples in scientific studies.”

Specifically, Benjamin believes that a more apt use of these genetic tests would be in social science research. Once scientists start using these tools to control for genetic factors, they’ll be able to more accurately estimate the positive or negative effects of experimental interventions like, say, free pre-school, on children. In other words, scientists will be able to more precisely estimate how much of a classroom’s achievement is due to class environment versus genetic predispositions.

“Knowing more about which genetic factors matter and being able to incorporate them into studies will help us to better identify the environmental interventions that can help make people better off, improve their educational outcomes and improve their cognitive health,” Benjamin explained.

In fact, Benjamin’s past research has focused on the environmental changes that downplay genes’ importance in educational attainment. For instance, his May paper found that polygenic scores were less predictive of educational attainment in younger Swedish generations compared to older generations. This could mean that the country’s educational reforms enacted in the 20th century were successful in creating more equal opportunities for people.

Belsky also agrees that the point of understanding DNA’s effects on educational achievement is to help develop programs that benefit everyone, regardless of what’s written on their genotype.

“Just because genes predict life outcomes, doesn’t mean they determine them,” Belsky concluded. “The key is to find the pathways — molecular and behavioral — that connect our DNA with outcomes like educational success.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/genetic-analysis-predicts-academic-achievement-for-the-first-time_us_5791388ee4b0fc06ec5c58c8?section=

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